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Brookfield Properties' retail division is shedding 20% of its workforce because the pandemic hits malls

People walk through the Brookfield Place Pavilion at the World Trade Center West Concourse Pedestrian Transit Link on October 24, 2013 in New York City.

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One of the largest retail property owners in the country, Brookfield Properties, is going through a major downsizing as the coronavirus pandemic drags its business and new leasing activities dry up in shopping malls, according to CNBC.

"While many companies were quick to roll out vacations and layoffs at the start of the pandemic, we made a conscious choice to keep our entire team busy while getting a better understanding of the longer-term implications for our business," said Jared Chupaila, the CEO The Brookfield Properties retail group announced this week in an email to employees that CNBC received.

However, he said the mall's owner had now decided to make cuts "to accommodate the future size of our portfolio".

Chupaila said the cuts will affect around 20% of the company's workforce, both at corporate headquarters and at local leasing agents. It wasn't immediately clear how large the total Brookfield Properties workforce was in retail.

According to its website, Brookfield Properties has more than 170 retail properties in 43 states, including Brookfield Place in downtown New York City and the Fashion Show Mall in Las Vegas. The company added a number of malls to its portfolio when it acquired Chicago-based mall owner GGP for $ 9.25 billion in cash in 2018.

Brookfield Asset Management's real estate business employs around 22,000 people worldwide. This is evident from the latest annual filing, which also includes other asset classes such as office space.

A representative from Brookfield declined to comment.

A number of other retail property owners have experienced similar pain. The Tennessee-based mall owner, CBL & Associates, is expected to file for bankruptcy protection no later than October 1st.

The largest U.S. mall owner in the country, Simon Property Group, employed 30% of its workforce in March as it was forced to temporarily close its malls nationwide. At that time, some of his employees were also made permanent

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